(CNN) — Hong Kong is often compared to cities such as London and New York, but the resemblance ends once you leave the central business district.
A hop across Victoria Harbour — which divides Hong Kong Island and Kowloon peninsula — showcases another side of Hong Kong.
While the Tsim Sha Tsui district has its fair share of glamorous restaurants and shiny megamalls, it’s also home to fascinating museums, sky-high bars, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, intimate neighborhoods and quiet parks worth a wander. Here are eight things to do:
1. Take a heritage cruise
The Star Ferry crosses Kong’s famous Victoria Harbour.
AARON TAM/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Hong Kong’s pride and joy, the Star Ferry has been plying the harbor since the late 1800s.
Decked out in green and white livery, these stalwart ships shuttle passengers to and from Tsim Sha Tsui all day long. The ride takes just 10 minutes and costs only 25 cents.
And with the massive skyscrapers towering above, the view of the Hong Kong skyline from this angle is truly breathtaking.
If you’re yearning for a ride on a traditional junk boat — known for their iconic, dragon-like sails and teak hulls — we suggest you climb aboard the Aqua Luna II.
Debuted earlier this year, the ship was handcrafted by a veteran junk builder, using traditional methods — and not a single nail.
The 45-minute evening Symphony of Light cruise includes complimentary drinks and front row seats to the city’s nightly light show, where laser beams and spotlights dance across the skyscrapers.
2. Learn something new
A 1.5-minute look at some of the best places to eat, drink, relax, shop and work out in Hong Kong. Video by <a href=”http://www.black-buddha.com” target=”_blank”>Black Buddha</a>.
Along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, travelers will find a cluster of several of Hong Kong’s top museums and performance facilities.
There’s the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, home to a 2,000-plus seat concert hall and a massive theater where you can often catch shows and exhibitions, including Cantonese opera and international orchestra performances.
Nearby, both the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Space Museum will emerge from a large-scale renovations in 2018.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Museum of History provides a walk through the city’s various epochs and the Hong Kong Science Museum provides myriad interactive exhibitions for hands-on types.
Hong Kong Museum of Art, 10 Salisbury Rd, Kowloon; +852 2721 0116
Hong Kong Cultural Centre, L5, Auditoria Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 2734 2009
Hong Kong Science Museum, 2 Science Museum Rd, corner of Cheong Wan Rd. and Chatham Rd., Kowloon; 2732–3232
Hong Kong Museum of History, 100 Chatham Rd S, Kowloon; +852 2724 9042
3. Shop ’til you drop
Shoppers scoop up designer goods in Tsim Sha Tsui.
AARON TAM/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Tsim Sha Tsui has become synonymous with shopping and it’s not hard to see why.
Along Nathan Road, a.k.a. the “Golden Mile,” travelers can’t avoid commercial meccas such as Harbour City. The city’s largest mall is the first thing seen when exiting the Star Ferry Pier.
Home to two cinemas, 50 restaurants and more than 450 stores, the massive space seems to go on forever.
In addition to the heavy hitters, retail addicts will appreciate K11 Art Mall’s boutique selection as well as the trendy micro malls, tucked down the side streets off Granville Road.
Rise Shopping Arcade, full of Japanese and Korean finds, is particularly worth a detour.
But one of the best ways to experience Hong Kong’s sartorial side is via custom tailoring.
There are countless tailor shops in Tsim Sha Tsui.
A few respected outlets include Sam’s Tailor (where Bill Clinton once visited), Raja Fashions and Empire Tailors.
Harbour City, 3-27 Canton Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 2118 8666
K11 Art Mall, 18 Hanoi Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 3118 8070
Rise Fashion Arcade, 5-11 Granville Circuit, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Sam’s Tailor, Burlington Arcade, 90-94C Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 367 9423
Raja Fashions, 34 Cameron Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 366 7624
Empire Tailors, Shop 6, G/F, 63 Mody Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 27232673
4. Linger over afternoon tea
A fleet of Rolls-Royces at the Peninsula.
MIKE CLARKE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Boasting a beautiful colonial-era facade, The Peninsula Hong Kong is the city’s oldest luxury hotel — built in 1928.
Unsurprisingly, it’s also home to the city’s most popular afternoon tea experience. The magic happens in the majestic lobby, where soaring ceilings and gilded pillars set the scene.
This is the place to indulge. Expect tiny finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and sterling silver tea pots — all accompanied by a string quartet.
Of course, if you can’t bear to wait in line at the Peninsula, there’s another option nearby: Palm Court at The Langham hotel.
The recently renovated address provides an elegant atmosphere, Wedgwood tea ware and homemade treats — plus easy access to the sleek Artesian Bar should afternoon tea evolve into evening drinks.
The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 2920 2888
Palm Court, The Langham, 8 Peking Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 2132 7898
5. Drink in style
A drink at Vibes.
For a quiet garden setting, travelers may want to cool off at Vibes lounge, hidden away at The Mira design hotel. Here, frangipani trees, intimate outdoor lounges and mezze platters await.
For skyline views of Hong Kong Island, the formidable Felix bar at The Peninsula Hong Kong is hard to beat.
Designed by Philippe Starck, the 28th floor restaurant and bar has its own private elevator. Once upstairs, a spiraling stairwell leads tipplers to the bar serving classic cocktails.
Another crowd pleaser is Aqua Spirit in the One Peking Road tower, with penthouse views from the 30th floor.
The fashionable design and panoramic windows go down easy — as do the creative drinks, such as the piña colada-inspired Matcha Colada.
But for something more low-key, a dive bar like Castro’s delivers cheap beers and bar snacks.
Vibes, 5/F, The Mira, Mira Place, 118 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsu, Kowloon; +852 2315 5599
Felix, 28/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 2696 6778
Aqua, 30/F, One Peking Road Bldg, 1 Peking Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 3427 2288
Castro’s, 16 Ashley Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 2957 8041
6. Dine like a celebrity
Dinner with a view at Rech by Alain Ducasse.
InterContinental Hong Kong
From celebrity chef spots to authentic Cantonese fine-dines, some of the city’s top restaurants are located in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Big names like Nobu and Rech by Alain Ducasse headline the lineup at the InterContinental Hong Kong, where excellent service and panoramic views of the harbor round out the experience.
Elsewhere in Tsim Sha Tsui, FINDS impresses with beautiful Scandinavian cuisine from Jaakko Sorsa.
The menu skips from Finland to Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden (hence the name), featuring surprising dishes such as wild game pâté and Danish open-faced sandwiches.
Of course, seeing as you’re in Hong Kong, you’ll likely want to experience authentic local cuisine.
Lucky you: Tsim Sha Tsui is a haven for Cantonese cuisine and three-Michelin-starred T’sang Court at the Langham hotel is the best of the best.
Nobu, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 2721 1211
Rech, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 2721 1211
T’sang Court, The Langham, 8 Peking Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 2132 7898
FINDS, The Luxe Manor, 39 Kimberley Rd., Kowloon; +852 2522 9318
7. Explore the park
A man practices Tai Chi in Kowloon Park.
In the northwestern corner of Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon Park provides one of the largest downtown green spaces.
Formerly a British Army territory, travelers will find a swimming pool, aviary, soccer fields, bamboo-lined pathways and a manicured maze garden within the 33-acre space.
On Sundays, there’s a free lion dance performance as well as martial arts demonstrations near the park’s Sculpture Walk.
Just outside the southeastern edge of park is the gorgeous Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Centre (a.k.a. the Kowloon Mosque). Dating to 1896, the mosque is the largest of its kind in Hong Kong.
Kowloon Park, 22 Austin Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, +852 2724 3344
Kowloon Mosque, 105 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 2724 0095
8. Casual grazing
While expensive restaurants are easy to come by, there’s no need to splurge.
Tsim Sha Tsui is brimming with street-style eateries and hole-in-the-wall restaurants — even entire towers dedicated to food.
A walk along Kimberly Road will give you an inkling of what’s on offer in this dense district.
From South Korean barbecue joints to Taiwanese noodle shops, sushi bars and soft serve ice cream — there’s no way you can possibly leave Tsim Sha Tsui feeling hungry.
More international feasts can be found inside one of Hong Kong’s most iconic buildings: Chungking Mansions.
Though once known for its drug smuggling and counterfeit trades, the tower is now associated with money exchanges, secondhand phones and delicious food.
The 17-story building is divided into several tower blocks, most of which have Indian, Pakistani, Nepali and African restaurants, such as perennially popular Khyber Pass and The Delhi Club.
The Delhi Club, Room 3, 3/F, Block C, Chungking Mansion, 38-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 2368 1682
Khyber Pass, Flat E2, 7/F, Block E, Chungking Mansion, 36-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon: +852 2721 2786
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